So our favorite octogenarian Playboy has been in the news recently with the announcement that he is putting his Los Angeles Playboy Mansion up for sale – and Hef comes with it. It’s been written about in the media ad nauseam so I’ve decided not to cover it on my blog. But it did bring about a request from a reader for me to cover Hugh Hefner’s former girlfriend’s house in Aspen, Colorado. Barbi Benton famously dated Hefner from from 1969 until 1976.
Barbi is known for discovering the California Playboy Mansion where Hefner resides today and for convincing him to purchase it and move west from his Chicago mansion.
Benton and Hefner eventually parted ways but Barbi went on to marry a very wealthy real estate developer named George Gradow in 1979. They have been together ever since.
In the late 1980’s the couple decided to build a home in Aspen Colorado – in the same subdivision where John Denver built his famous house. Barbi always had unconventional taste in decor and design so she sought out the most avant-garde architect on the market: Bart Prince.
Prince is known for his wacky, outlandish designs which often seem to defy gravity. Barbi Benson’s house in Aspen is an incredible Bart Prince original.
Dubbed the “Copper Palace” because of the SEVEN miles of copper used to coat the exterior, this home was built to thrill, and confound.
Prince’s design centered around four pods, adjoined by structural steel-and-concrete staircases, that essentially lift and cantilever the house off the ground like a row of hovering spaceships.
The home took more than four years to build. Prince designed the house to “minimize the footprint, maximize the views, and let the structure follow the slope of the hill”.
Barbi had some requests: space for a dinner party for 150 people; a ballroom, and a 1,500 square foot nightclub.
Inside, there are some unorthodox features including: a multimillion-dollar entertainment space with speakers hidden in totem poles, a $250K living room floor composed of 14 exotic woods, and, a custom-designed 29-person couch that cost $100K.
And there is color. Lots of color.
Every single room was designed from Barbi’s vision – either waking, or visions that came to her in her dreams.
A good example of that is the amethyst and planet-themed disco nightclub room:
But there really is no unifying theme in the house… it’s just all bizarre.
Barbi is quoted as saying: “I come from the side of the brain that makes people good at music and art.”
Barbi commissioned over 30 artists to do detail work on the home. In fact, she had all 47 interior doors created to look like the masterpieces of Picasso, Klimt, Dali and others. Each door is supposed to subtly indicate what goes on inside the room. No kidding.
What does Barbi’s husband George Gradow think of her decorating style? He was a little hesitant at first, but now he says he loves it.
Happy wife, happy life!
(Maybe Hef should take his cue from that.)
You can view Hugh Hefner’s former Chicago home here.
See the Playboy “Bunny House” here.
Special thanks to Jillyan P. for suggesting this post idea!